Research and development expenditures at the US’ 39 federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs) rose from $15.2 billion in FY 2009 to $16.8 billion in FY 2010, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) FFRDC Research and Development Survey. More than $1 billion of the FY 2010 total was supplied by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
This 10.6% increase is the largest one-year increase since 2002, when expenditures increased 14.5% to $11.5 billion. Between FY 2002 and 2009, FFRDC expenditures increased an average of 5% each year, with the exception of a brief stall in FY 2006.
FFRDCs are privately operated R&D organizations that are exclusively or substantially financed by the federal government. FFRDCs provide the sponsoring federal agencies with capabilities to meet special long-term R&D needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing in-house or by contractor resources. Each FFRDC is operated, managed, and/or administered by a university or university consortium, a nonprofit organization, or an industrial firm, either as an autonomous organization or as a separate operating unit.
Federal funding accounted for 97.3% ($16.4 billion) of the FFRDC’s total expenditures in FY 2010. Since 2001 the federal government has consistently provided over 96% of the funding to the FFRDCs each year, and the FFRDCs’ federally funded R&D expenditures have increased 69%, from $9.7 billion in FY 2001 to $16.4 billion in FY 2010.
The laboratories, centers, and institutes that are designated as FFRDCs conduct work within a variety of fields, such as physics, engineering, astronomy, computer science, and psychology. Similar to the proportions in previous years, in FY 2010 basic research activities accounted for 39% of total FFRDC R&D expenditures; applied research, 31%; and development, 30%.
Five FFRDCs reported ARRA-funded expenditures of more than $100 million in FY 2010: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory ($101 million); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ($113 million); Oak Ridge National Laboratory ($135 million); Los Alamos National Laboratory ($139 million); and the National Cancer Institute at Frederick ($183 million). ARRA provided the funding for nearly 30% of the National Cancer Institute’s total R&D expenditures in FY 2010 and was responsible for 50% ($48 million) of the FY 2010 R&D expenditures at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.